Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. M&A Analyst
GRE 323, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Non-Profit Latino
GMAT 710, GPA 3.06
Darden | Mr. Financial World
GMAT 730, GPA 7.8
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Air Force Vet
GRE 311, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Engagement Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Top Performer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Harvard | Mr. Fresh Perspective
GRE 318, GPA 3.0
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95

Booth Team Wins Stock Picking Contest

Against a slate of MBA teams from 15 highly prominent business schools, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business left Friday (Nov. 15) with the championship trophy of the annual investment manager competition called the Alpha Challenge.

Booth finished ahead of a team from Yale University’s School of Management and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, which finished second and third, respectively in what is billed as “one of the world’s premier stock pitching competitions.”

Alpha Challenge bragging rights were earned after three-person MBA teams competed against each other in presenting one long and one short investment recommendation from a predefined universe of stocks. Each team had to defend its analysis on Nov. 15th in front of a panel of judges who included hedge fund managers, institutional portfolio managers and equity research analysts.


This year’s competition, the ninth annual challenge, was hosted by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. The Booth team won over heavy competition from a bevy of U.S. schools including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Columbia Business School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

Past contests also featured a few non-U.S. schools, such as INSEAD and London Business School, but this year it was an all U.S. challenge. Last year, an MBA team from London won the performance award which is given to a school based on the positions selected by students during the previous year’s competition.

This is the second time in five years that first place was captured by Chicago Booth and the first time in four years that Wharton failed to place among the top three teams. The Booth win unseated Duke University’s Fuqua School which had earned first place in the past two years of the competition.


The teams select stocks from a specific industry and exclude companies in which trading is not considered sufficiently liquid. From the list of available stocks, students must make one, and only one, buy recommendation as well as one, and only one, sell recommendation. The investment horizon is twelve months and the students are told to assume they represent a $1 billion fund. Following all of the presentations, the judges assign a rank of 1 (best) through 3 (worst) to each team.

Kyle Akin, a first-year MBA at Booth who had worked for a hedge fund before starting his MBA, and the winning team recommended  a short on GenGorp  and a long on Digital Globe Inc.  Akin first applied for the competition through Chicago Booth by pitching a stock in his application. He found out about a month ago that he’d been selected.

Less than two weeks before the competition, participants received the list of transportation industry stocks from which they could choose. They had one week to do research and analysis, and put together their pitches. Akin put about 25 hours of preparation into the presentation, but there wasn’t much he could do to prepare outside of research.


Akin said he was glad he chose to participate, especially since participants could interview with judges — a new feature of this year’s event. Like many of the event’s participants, Akin hopes to have a career in investment management.

“I feel like I’ve been tested,” he said. “They put you in the hot seat.”

Typically, the first place team receives a $5,000 award, second place gets $3,000, and third place is awarded $1,000.

Competition judges this year included well-recognized portfolio managers, such as Richard Chilton and Steve Yachtman, and investment professionals from a variety of firms, including William Blair & Company, Fidelity Asset Management, American Century, and T. Rowe Price.

Teams were fielded by:

1.    Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

2.    Columbia University, Columbia Business School

3.    Cornell University, Johnson School of Management

4.    Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business

5.    Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

6.    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management

7.    New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business

8.    Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

9.    University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

10.    University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

11.    University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

12.    University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

13.    University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

14.    University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

15.    Yale University, Yale School of Management

The event featured a keynote address from Bruce Johnstone, managing director and senior marketing investment strategist for Fidelity Investments.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.